Posts Tagged ‘Disney+’

Weekly News Roundup (October 20, 2019)

Sunday, October 20th, 2019

So the Rise of Skywalker trailer didn’t materialise last week, but I promise that it’s coming this (U.S.) Monday. I’m sure this time because ESPN, of all people, actually posted a video announcing the release of the trailer, which will be shown for the first time during Monday Night Football.

Well, if ESPN can post a video promoting a Star Wars trailer, I can certainly do the same!

Still not a huge amount of news, but we do have some (and by some, I mean one story), so here we are …

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It’s not a great time to be Netflix right now. They’ve largely managed to see to the threat of Amazon and Hulu, despite the latter spending more and more on content. But they now have to contend with new offerings from Apple and Disney, namely Apple TV+ and Disney+.

To make things worse, two new players have announced they’ll enter the market, with Warner Media’s HBO Max and NBC Universal’s Peacock, both trying to tap into the lucrative streaming scene.

NBC Universal’s Peacock joins HBO Max, Disney+, CBS All Access, Apple TV+, Amazon and Hulu in competing with Netflix

But is Netflix worried? Nah, say the company’s bosses. CEO Reed Hastings was a bit too casual with his statement last month that November, when Apple TV+/Disney+ launches, will usher in a “whole new world” for streaming – and the market interpreted this as a suggestion that things are going to change (and not for the better) for Netflix. Never mind that Hastings was clearly trying to use an “Aladdin” reference to have some fun with the whole Disney+ thing, but the truth is, Netflix perhaps should be worried.

With Warner, Universal, Disney, three of the largest studios, going their own way and taking their content with them, it leaves Netflix increasing dependent on their original productions. Productions that, without a theatrical and home video sales run, are almost never profitable in any meaningful direct way. Our sister site Streambly has been monitoring the binge-watching bahaviour of Netflix subscribers and the most popular shows on Netflix are not the ones you think. They are shows like ‘Friends’ (NBC), ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ (NBC), ‘The Big Bang Theory’ (CBS) and ‘The Office’ (NBC). Shows that, in time, will probably no longer be allowed to have a home on Netflix. And that’s not to mention all the blockbuster movies that will no longer be made available on Netflix.

So while Hastings may have been just joking around with the “whole new world” statement, what he says is actually quite true. We are entering a whole new, fragmented world of streaming that won’t be a friendly one for Netflix. For the consumer, we will have access to more streaming content than ever before, but only if we’re willing to pay the price, and when combined, the price won’t be cheap. Some of these offerings will probably fail to impress and will die away naturally and we will see some consolidation again, but before then, things will be more complicated (and more expensive) than they need to be.

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That’s it for this week. Come back on Monday night (Tuesday afternoon, Australian time) for the Rise of Skywalker trailer, one of the biggest trailers this year. And maybe I’ll see you this time next week again, assuming we have something interesting to talk about. Until then …

Weekly News Roundup (September 1, 2019)

Sunday, September 1st, 2019

And we’re back! Quite a few things have happened since the last WNR, and I know I promised to keep this thing regular, but sometimes everything else seems to just get in the way. No more promises though, but I will try my best in the future.

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If you’re an Aussie and you like the sort of things I like, then you would have been ecstatic about the news of Disney+ coming down under, and for the really good price of $8.99 (that translates to less than the US pricing of $6.99).

What’s more, with Disney’s fan event, the D23 Expo, happening just a short while after the pricing announcement, Disney used the event to give fans even more information about the service.

We got trailers for the new Star Wars TV series The Mandalorian (and the trailer looked fantastic – if the show if half as good, it will be epic), original films Lady and the Tramp and Noelle. There was also a bunch of announcement for new Marvel shows, and a big one, Ewan McGregor coming back as Obi-Wan in a new TV series.

From a technical standpoint, there was also some exciting news that all Disney+ accounts will have access to 4K, HDR, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. This makes Disney+ by far the cheapest streaming plan to included these advanced features, $9 per month cheaper than the Netflix plan with the equivalent feature.

Those in the U.S. can also bundle Disney+ with Hulu and ESPN+ for only $12.99 per month, saving almost $5.

A screenshot showing the Disney+ Interface
Disney+ will be worth having

With so much enticing content, a great price and unexpected feature-set, it looks like Disney is very very serious about going head to head with Netflix. All the talk about Disney+ not being a competitor for Netflix (and most of that talk is coming from Disney, which is telling) is technically correct, but with Hulu under its wings, there’s no reason, from a content point of view, that Disney can’t take on Netflix.

It will be good news for us consumers, not so much Netflix shareholders, I think.


And in the near future, when you’re watching a 4K Disney+ stream on your new TV, you might notice that there might be a new mode on your TV called ‘Filmmaker Mode’. If you see it, you should enable it.

Announced this week by the UHD Alliance, along with CE partners Panasonic, LG and VIZIO and along with the Directors Guild of America and The Film Foundation, Filmmaker Mode will be a shortcut that turns off all the post-processing features on the TV that distracts from the film-watching experience. You know the ones – motion smoothing, the over-sharpening and unnatural colour corrections, and when combined, makes movies look more like daytime soap operas.

The logo for Filmmaker Mode
Filmmaker Mode will make it easy to see films the way they are supposed to be seen

But now, with just one setting, you can watch the film as the filmmakers intended, with the right colour reproduction, and more importantly, the right framerate.

The new mode seems to be made for UHD Blu-ray discs, but there’s no reason why it can’t be used for streaming as well. So there won’t be any more excuses for films to be played back with the soap opera effect turned on. No excuses!!


That’s it for the week. Back to making trailers for me. Until next time!

Weekly News Roundup (June 9, 2019)

Sunday, June 9th, 2019

Well, that was a longer break than expected. A nice vacation was then followed by the need of a vacation for the vacation, and then a couple of slow news weeks, and here we are!

Even without much news, we’ve been busy adding new trailers to our YouTube channel. Now while we use real 4K content whenever possible, we’re still at the stage of 4K where most trailers are not released in the format. So we have a “special sauce” that we use to upscale it to make it look (and sound) great, unlike other channels that upload 4K trailers that look/sound no better (and often worse) than the original HD version.

Comparison between our "special sauce" upscaled 4K versus basic 4K upscaling
Our 4K quality (left) compared to your standard 4K upscaled trailer – click to enlarge

Of course, your output is only as good as your input, which is why we almost always use ProRes high bitrate (150 Mbps+) sources (not quite uncompressed quality, but close enough) for our trailers. So while we won’t be the first to upload a trailer, we’ll always try to upload the best quality version.

With this promo out of the way, let’s get to the news.

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So the big news this week, according to many in the press, is that Apple has shut down iTunes. But for those that read articles beyond the headline, you will have realised that Apple didn’t really shut down iTunes. For one, those of us who haven’t yet drunk the Apple kool-aid and still opting to use Windows will be stuck with the frustrating iTunes software to do everything from music downloads to software updates to backups (the fact that the software did so much, too much in fact, is one of the key complaints against the much-maligned software).

A screenshot of the iTunes software
iTunes 2001 – 2019: Will not be missed

Secondly, the iTunes store will remain the way it is, still allowing you to download and store your content locally if you still don’t trust the cloud. So the stories of “the end of downloads” are a bit exaggerated, which was never going to happen while Apple is still making money from them (about a billion a year – down a lot from its peak and a fraction of streaming these days, but hey, who says no to a billion dollars, right).

So what exactly are the changes? For one, on iDevices, the iTunes app will be replaced with three different apps: Music, Podcasts and Television. By splitting the bloated iTunes app into three separate apps, it allows each app to be better customized for the user’s needs, and to have an interface that’s better suited for the content in question. You got to remember that iTunes started out as a media player before it morphed into software that attempted to do everything. So it’s a great idea for the three iTunes sub-apps to go back to their roots.

As for how will Mac people do updates, backups and restores? They will find the same functionality that used to be in iTunes as part of the Finder app, which should have been the way from the get-go. I don’t know about you, but I think using a media player to do OS updates and system backups makes zero sense, and it’s something even the worst Windows versions (Me, Vista, in no particular order) didn’t force users to do. So it’s ironic that Windows people are still stuck having to use iTunes to do everything.

Moving quickly away from the beginnings of a Mac vs Windows flame war, and to the upcoming Netflix vs Disney+ flame war, it appears many in the U.S. are already aware of Disney+ despite almost zero promotional stuff so far.

And the awareness to sign-up ratio is actually pretty good, with 22% of U.S. households appear willing to sign up. And a great sign for Disney is that the group with the highest potential sign-up rate is households with kids, which surely has to be the Mickey Mouse company’s main demographic.

A screenshot of the Disney+ interface
Disney+: There’s something there for everyone, but probably not enough to seriously harm Netflix

Also interesting was seeing what kind of content each age group were most drawn to when deciding whether to sign up or not. 35 and older people (me!) were most drawn to the Star Wars stuff on Disney+ (that’s true for me!). 25 to 35-year olds, the group most likely to have young children and most likely to have grown up with Disney animated hits like The Lion King and Aladdin were most interested in Disney’s animated hits. And 18 to 24-year olds wanted to watch the Marvel stuff the most, the studio that has produced the biggest hits for Disney in recent times. It all makes sense!

But Disney+ is still no Netflix killer. For one, Netflix will have content from Warner Bros., Paramount and Sony, while Disney+ will obviously be limited to only Disney branded content. Disney has also said that Disney+ will be more family oriented, and so don’t expect to see series like Sex Education and You, or even the fantastic When They See Us. These would most likely end up on Disney’s other streaming platform, Hulu, if they ever get made. And that’s a big if because Disney’s original production budget is minuscule compared to Netflix’s ($500 million versus $15 billion). If anything, Hulu has a better chance of competing with Netflix than Disney+, especially if Disney decides to throw more content into the platform.

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Well, that’s all we have this week. Until next time!

Weekly News Roundup (May 12, 2019)

Sunday, May 12th, 2019

Happy Mother’s Day!

Not a mum/mom myself, so I have to work today. Which is just as good, as we do have some news to cover, and as I’ll be unavailable for the next two weeks, this will serve as the last WNR for a bit.

I’m still having a lot of fun with my new broadband connection (especially the much faster uploads), so have uploaded many more trailers to our YouTube channel.

I’m putting my knowledge to good use upscaling some of them to 4K (with 5.1ch audio upmix as well), optimizing them for clarity, without making them look (or sound) too artificial. All using free tools that you can download from Digital Digest as well, tools like MeGUI, AviSynth and filters like Nnedi3/nnedi3 rpow2 and SpecWeb.

Anyway, onto the news.

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There’s a new way to stream pirated movies online, and you don’t have to go to a dodgy site to do so (unless you consider Facebook dodgy, which is a fair point these days). Pirates are using Facebook Watch Parties to stream popular pirated content, such as new episodes of Game of Thrones, and Facebook can’t always get to them as quickly as they should.

Game of Thrones being streamed illegally on Facebook

What Facebook is going through it pretty normal though for a new video platform, which Facebook’s Watch platform/section qualifies as. Pirates will always find a way to exploit a new video platform to host their stuff, and it’s up to the platform to figure out a way to stop them. YouTube has had to deal with it, and Vimeo and Dailymotion are still dealing with it (and not doing as good a job as YouTube). When Twitch first launched, pirated content was everywhere on it, and it’s still there if you look for it, especially for big TV events like the last season of Game of Thrones.

But for all the problems with Facebook these days, this one is probably the least serious. Unless you’re a content owner, of course.

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It may end up being the biggest movie ever, but ‘Avengers: Endgame’ will be “free” to watch for anyone who’s signed up to Disney+.

Disney+ subscribers will be able to stream Avengers: Endgame on December 11

Disney has announced the mega-blockbuster will be available for unlimited streaming on Disney+ in December, one month after the streaming service launches. This follows the previous announcement that ‘Captain Marvel’ will be one of the “launch” titles for the platform, which will cost $6.99 per month.

If the release schedule of the previous ‘Avengers’ movie is any indication, December will be roughly 3 months after ‘Endgame’ launches on home video, suggesting that “three months” will be the typical delay between Blu-ray and Disney+ releases.

Disney is also trying to buy the part of Hulu that they don’t own from Comcast, suggesting the company still have big plans for the streaming platform, even after Disney+ launches.

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That’s all for this week, and for the next couple of weeks. Until then, have a (few) great one(s).

Weekly News Roundup (April 14, 2019)

Sunday, April 14th, 2019

Welcome back to another edition of the WNR. There was sadly not much happening from the week before last, but then things started happening this past week, and here we are.

I think the moment things started happening was when I got connected to my new Internet connection. No longer am I stuck at 3 Mbps on an outdated ADSL connection, I’m now connected to proper broadband that’s bazillion times faster. Granted, it’s still via an outdated HFC connection and not via a superior fibre to the home connection, but beggars can’t be choosers. What’s even better than the download speed is the upload speed – no longer confined to a 1Mbps uplink (which was more like 0.7Mbps in real usage), I can now upload without a care in the world, whether it’s backups, or for Digital Digest, some new kick-ass trailers.

Promo thumbnail for the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker teaser trailer
If you’re keen on wasting a 1.3GB download on a trailer, you now have the option

It would have taken 6 hours before, but it only took a few minutes to upload the Ultra HD teaser trailer for Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (it took a bit longer to encode the trailer though). And yes, it’s 1.3GB, but if you were on a super fast connection like I am now, it’s not a worry at all.

Unless you have limited hard-drive space, in that case, you might want to check out our new YouTube trailers channel, and you can watch the Episode IX UHD trailer there too. We’ll be adding more trailers now and then, and some classic ones too.

Oh yes, the news.

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Pirates may have found a new source for the latest un-aired TV episodes, with a dozen shows falling prey to the latest round of leaks. The leaks include un-aired episodes from shows like ‘The 100’ and ‘American Gods’, and even includes entire un-aired seasons of ‘Ramy’ and ‘The Red Line’. All of the leaks appear to come from promo screeners, which suggests that these advanced previews, meant for industry professionals, have somehow ended up in the hands of pirates.

Poster for American Gods
American Gods – one of the shows that was part of a massive leak of promo screeners

Even though some of the leaked titles does include a person’s name in the watermark, which may point to the original recipient of the screeners, this doesn’t really provide conclusive evidence that this person was the source of the leaks. The screener may have been intercepted before it reached this person or may have been stolen from this person without their knowledge. Still, it may be a starting point for an FBI investigation, if they choose to investigate it.

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And the big news of the week is something we’ve been expecting for a while now. Disney had its investor’s conference, and as promised, they provided more “deets” on their upcoming Disney+ streaming service.

We now know the launch date: November 12 in the United States (next year in Europe and Asia); the price: a low $USD6.99 per month; and that at launch, it will have more than 500 movies and 7500 TV episodes, including some exclusive Marvel and Star Wars shows.

Still from the TV show 'The Mandalorian'
The Mandalorian will stream exclusively on Disney+ for any one willing to pay the $6.99 monthly fee

Most of the original content we already know about, like ‘Loki’, ‘The Mandalorian’ and the still unnamed Diego Luna Star Wars show, but we also have ‘WandaVision’ starring the Avenger’s Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany, reprising their roles as Wanda and The Vision. Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan will also star in ‘The Falcon and The Winter Soldier’.

Disney gobbling up Fox also means lots of Fox content will be on Disney+, including every single season of ‘The Simpsons’ (that’s 30 seasons if you’ve lost count), and classics like ‘The Titanic’ and ‘The Sound of Music’.

As for whether Disney+ will be a “Netflix killer”, I don’t know about that. There’s very little overlap in content between Netflix and Disney+, and so they’re more complementary services than competing ones. Netflix will also have a lot more third party content, and a lot more originals too for that matter, so unless you crave Disney/Pixar/Marvel/Lucasfilm originals all the time, Netflix may be a more rounded choice.

Some of our more dedicated readers will remember what I wrote in the March 24 edition of the WNR:

So while Disney shares have fallen since the acquisition was completed, most likely due to the cost of the deal eating into Disney’s short term bottom line, the future is bright for the company. You don’t get financial advice that often here, but I would stock up and hold on to Disney shares with the expectation that 1 or 2 years down the line, this will prove to be a very smart decision. Of course, I have literally zero experience in investing, so you might be better off consulting the Magic Eight Ball (it told me “Most Likely” when I asked if I should buy Disney shares, so there you go).

Disney shares are “only” up 11% following these announcements. You’re welcomed!

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That’s it for this week, it seems. News and financial advice, that’s what you’ll get here. See you next time!